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Edwards braced for heavy fire after horror show against Storm

Penrith fullback Dylan Edwards expects to be targeted by the Wests Tigers playmakers on Friday after his 80-minute horror show that featured more handling errors than each of his two previous NRL seasons.

Edwards committed six mistakes in the Panthers' ugly 32-2 loss to the Storm in Bathurst last week, two of which led directly to critical tries for the NRL ladder leaders.

His unflattering error tally in difficult conditions trumped the four handling errors Edwards had in his entire 2017 breakout campaign (16 games), as well as the five mistakes he had from eight games last year before a season-ending shoulder injury.

Coach Ivan Cleary expressed sympathy for his young fullback after full-time and immediately shut down any suggestion of dropping Edwards to Canterbury Cup.

As a result Edwards expects to be squarely in the crosshairs of Cleary's old side, who travel to Penrith for one of the most-anticipated clashes of 2019 on Friday.

"It was the grubbers that I missed, they probably should [target me], I suppose," Edwards said after the Storm loss.

Panthers fullback Dylan Edwards.
Panthers fullback Dylan Edwards. ©Robb Cox/NRL Photos

"It's going to come, so I look forward to the challenge.

"You can't blame the conditions on what I did. It was all down to my own ball handling. It wasn't anything else. It was just on me, really.

"I just tried to get myself out of it, and obviously it didn't work. I just tried to keep on trying and it kept backfiring on me."

Tigers halfback Luke Brooks forced 22 drop outs last year, while five-eighth Josh Reynolds comes in for his first game of 2019 as Benji Marshall is out with a hamstring injury.

Panthers v Wests Tigers - Round 4

Edwards himself only returned from a shoulder reconstruction in round one.

His 2017 season had earmarked him as a fullback for the future with his average of 71 kick return metres a game behind only Valentine Holmes among regular custodians.

Despite a six-month layoff after copping his shoulder injury last April, Edwards reclaimed the Panthers No.1 jumper from Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, shifting the New Zealand Test captain to the wing.

Edwards refused to use his injury as an excuse or an influence on his confidence at the back.

"I had a decent pre-season so I thought I'd come in reasonably good," he said.

"Obviously the match fitness is the big thing. You can't train for match fitness, but I thought the pre-season I had, I'd come in decent nick.

"Obviously [I will] review it and take a good look at what I did and what I did wrong, and just try resurrect that at training.

"I think every game you get another chance each week, so I'm looking forward to it."

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